All eyes will be on the Iberian peninsula this weekend as F1 returns for the first European race of the year, the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Located in the hills around this vibrant city, the Circuit de Catalunya will host a race that is usually remembered for it's strategic battles rather than wheel-to-wheel racing.

The drivers and teams know the track very well as it has been one of the sport's most used testing venues in recent years, however this weekend marks the first time the new 2014 cars have visited the Montmelo track.

Built as part of the city's legacy for the Olympics the following year, the Circuit de Catalunya held its first Grand Prix in 1991.

The track is 2.8miles (4.6km) long and consists of 16 corners, the first and second sectors are a mix of medium and high-speed turns, while the third sector is more of a technical section as it consists of 7 slow-speed corners.

The track has changed a little during its 20 year history notably a few years ago a new chicane was placed before the final corner, this was to try to increase overtaking into the first turn however that aim has largely failed.

Before I look at the layout in more detail check out a lap of the circuit with Spaniard Fernando Alonso from last year.

From the video you can see why the track has earned its reputation as one of the best testing tracks in F1, every aspect of a modern F1 car is pushed from the long main straight that see's the drivers reach over 200mph (320kph), the medium speed turns of the first half of the lap call for good downforce, while the slow turns at the end require good mechanical grip.

Turn's three and four are the real challenges here as they are two long right handers, they put huge loadings through the tyres and make the circuit one of the highest of the year in terms of degradation.

Turn nine, or Campsa as it called, is the signature turn at this track, rising uphill this near flat-out right will be much more difficult this year with the higher torque and less downforce, so expect the drivers to give it plenty of respect during the weekend.

The complex from turn 10 onwards provide the tight and twisty challenge of the track with a sequence of hairpins and a tricky off-camber chicane, while the final turn may also offer more of a challenge this year whereas it has been a more acceleration zone since the chicane was introduced, expect drivers to be feathering the throttle much more this year.

There are two main overtaking areas on the circuit and both will have DRS zones entering them this year. The first is along the main stright into the first corner, reaching over 200mph (320kph) the medium speed chicane does give opportunity for slip-streaming however it is a tricky area to overtake.

The other is into the turn 10 hairpin, tightened several years ago, a good run out of Campsa is key and as the tyres lose grip expect more overtaking in the biggest braking zone on the circuit.

Pirelli will bring the hardest compounds once again because of the long radius corners, last year's race was the catalyst for some teams to demand the tyres be made more durable as a four-stop strategy was used by most of the drivers.

A unique circuit which tests all areas of the car, with only two straights of note the Mercedes could find themselves under greater pressure from the fast catching Red Bull's and Ferrari's and with the questions surrounding who has made the most progress in terms of upgrades, we should be set for a fascinating weekend.

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